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Oban International

SEO, Social Media, Testing

There is no such thing as the World Wide Web

Greig Holbrook says the concept of the World Wide Web is a myth.

Greig is the founder of a global search marketing company based in Brighton, UK, with offices worldwide. He means that a website that is accessible to certain cultures is not likely to be accessible to others.

It sounds simple enough. So why did it take so long for this idea to catch on?

The majority of worldwide internet search is not conducted in English.

People prefer to search in their own language. And they aren’t often using a dictionary to translate from English.

Keywords typed into search engines may be written according to regional spellings, which vary vastly. They may be misspelled, or could be words we would never have associated with the topic.

It’s all regional.

For example, French web surfers searching for travel agencies tend to look up the word ‘holiday’ spelt with two ‘l’s. If a travel agency attempting to market themselves in France is aware of this fact, they will be able to hit a much larger portion of their target potential page visitors.

Greig has this seeming dilemma figured out: “The secret in this game is that you have to understand what users are looking for,” he says.

With this idea in mind, his company, Oban Multilingual, is revolutionising the way companies are targeting specific cultural markets.

The company finds those keywords that are being typed into the search engines globally, and lets its clients in on this golden secret.

Businesses in international markets should not be simply translating their English site into the native language of a particular country, says Greig. What businesses need to look at is key phrases customised to each individual region.

It was in 2000 when Greig was struck by the idea of setting up search teams of researchers around the world who could research these localisms. These teams consist of staff doing research in their own native language.

Oban’s success is undeniably linked with the internet’s incredible global growth.

An Internet Advertising Bureau study showed that 75 percent of us go online every day.

The internet is growing because it is making our lives easier. However, it is making the lives of marketers everywhere much more complicated.

It is difficult enough for marketers to keep up-to-date with current English trends, let alone trends in other languages. It is becoming increasingly essential that they hire external help to keep up with the rapidly changing market.

That’s where Oban comes in.

“The amount of demand for what we do has grown exponentially,” says Greig.

Brands need a strategy to stay on top. Without a search engine strategy, they risk becoming invisible to potential customers.

According to International Data Corporation, an IT market research group, only 5.4 percent of the world’s population speaks English.

This means that over 90 percent of the world is unable to find businesses whose websites are solely English. Oban understands this, and has taken steps to remedy this problem with a localise and conquer approach.

The company has offices in 26 different countries, spanning regions from the Middle East, to Australasia, to South America.

Using its vast resources, and innovative techniques, Oban’s teams gain a firm grasp on international search behaviour. It then uses that knowledge to show companies how to target each market differently.

“It’s much more sophisticated than I ever thought it would be,” says Greig.

It was a risk when he started out back in 2000. The internet growth potential was still uncertain. People were sceptical about the need for other language versions of their sites.

Greig, at the time, was frustrated with these narrow visions. “Oban was borne out of my idea that the web was only ever seen from Anglo-centric point of view,” says Greig.

The company has seen exponential growth since its debut, and this growth seems to be continually gaining in momentum. Its client list currently includes Universal Music Group, Johnson & Johnson, 3i, Choice Hotels, and Discovery Channel.

As it turns out, says Greig, “Our idea was right.”